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New gTLDs to be Delayed until Third Quarter of 2013 as ICANN Abandons Evaluation Batching and Seeks Input on Delegation Metering – Provides Additional Time for Open and Transparent URS Implementation by Philip Corwin

Philip Corwin imageOn July 29th ICANN announced that it is inclined to process all of the 1,930 new gTLD applications in a single batch, and that the results of the initial evaluations of all applications will probably be released around June to July of 2013, stating:

The current plan indicates that initial evaluation of all applications, processed in a “single batch”, can be completed in 11-12 months, possibly less – resulting in publication of results in June-July 2013…For applicants, releasing results in a single batch would mean that the first delegations would occur in late third quarter of 2013, six months later than originally expected.

ICANN had previously proposed to utilize a “digital archery” process to determine the batching order of applications, with applications in the first batch projected to begin delegation to the root in the first quarter of 2013. However, ICANN abandoned the digital archery concept just prior to its Prague meeting due to both technical problems as well as substantial criticisms.

ICANN’s announcement also invited comment from the community by August 19, 2012 on three separate questions related to the fact that considerations of technical stability of the DNS require that no more than 1,000 new gTLDs be delegated within a single year (about 20 per week). In addition to technical considerations, the announcement also makes clear that ICANN is deferring to the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), which advised it just prior to the Prague meeting that it would not be in a position to provide any early warnings on particular gTLD applications until after the October meeting in Toronto, and would not provide consensus advice on contentious applications until after the Beijing meeting scheduled for April 2013. [The GAC also recently announced that it would establish an internal process through which applicants and other interested parties could brief the GAC on particular applications – see http://www.internetcommerce.org/GAC-gTLD_Briefings]

As evaluations continue, it is possible that some applicants will drop out and seek a partial refund of their $185,000 application fee (70% for withdrawals up to the release of evaluation results) and/or combine their efforts with other applicants seeking the same string. It is also likely that some applications will proceed on a slower track due to negotiations with ICANN legal staff for a non-standard registry contract, or due to string contention, or objections and extended review. And some applicants who have primarily defensive aims may volunteer to be delegated in the second year. Nonetheless, it remains likely that more than 1,000 applications will be ready for delegation at the same time, and that fact combined with DNS stability considerations results in the need for agreement on some form of “metering” to control the delegation process. As the announcement states:

While there will be some natural smoothing as applications take different paths through objections and contention resolution processes, there will still be a requirement for some method of metering applications into the delegation process. This is due to the relatively high number of applications that may reach pre-delegation steps at essentially the same time. A metering method has not yet been determined and will need to be developed.

ICANN’s original digital archery proposal contemplated application batching in a way that favored balance between its five geographic regions; it is unknown whether that concept will be carried over to delegation metering. In addition, it is expected that some parties will favor giving delegation preference to certain types of applications – the various types include IDN, community, geographic, generic, and brand.

The six-month delay may also result in an extension of other related processes. For example, parties planning to object to an application can now do so beyond the 7-month objection period, as the Applicant Guidebook also provides for a two-week window after the announcement of evaluation results (however, the comment period on applications will still close in less than two weeks, on August 12th). And, while there are 1,930 separate applications, the largest part of each of them relates to back end technical plans and there are only about 40 separate technical platform providers to be considered in conjunction with all applications, which may permit some speedup in the process.

The delay also provides more time to work out implementation details of the two required rights protection mechanisms (RPMs), the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMC) and Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS). ICA believes that this additional time will facilitate community discussion of how the URS goals of providing a quick and less expensive UDRP supplement for clear-cut and incontrovertible cases of cybersquatting can be implemented in a manner that preserves essential registrant due process rights, and again urges ICANN to delegate staff support to an open and transparent implementation advisory group so that initial results can be reported in Toronto.

The announcement closes by asking all who submit comments to specifically address three related questions related to delegation metering. That comment period closes on August 19th. The ICA is presently considering whether it will file comments as well as what their content may be.

The complete announcement is available from:
www.icann.org/en/news/announcements/announcement-29jul12-en.htm

This article by Philip Corwin was originally posted on the Internet Commerce Association website here and is republished with permission.